We are sitting on the cedar outdoor deck of newly opened Landmark Bar & Kitchen, nursing a carafe of vodka, Red Bull and Skittles. A huge Great Dane runs up to me and plants a big lick on my cheek. I am one move away from creaming my wife at a game of Jenga. And placed before us, in gluttonous glory, is a piping hot pan of Nutella pizza.
This is the best — and possibly only — way to fully enjoy the latest addition to West 7th’s ever-growing bar and restaurant scene. Do not go to Landmark strictly for the food. Go to play old video-games and skee ball, and to drink silly drinks, and glare at the 30 HD TVs, and to sit on the patio and play Jenga and watch people ride a mechanical bull. Landmark is the equivalent of a Katy Perry song — don’t dig too deep and you’ll have a blast.
That doesn’t mean the food is bad; we enjoyed several dishes. However, take the placement of the words “Bar & Kitchen” in Landmark’s name literally, as there is a clear emphasis on alcohol. To put it in perspective: A recent sign out front proclaimed the soup of the day to be whiskey.
They do make good drinks there. On one visit, we shared the 32-ounce fishbowl trash can punch ($19) — made with cherry, strawberry and pineapple vodkas, and orange and cranberry juices — and marveled at its potency and layers of sweetness.
On another visit, we had the Skittlelicious ($12), a 16-ounce carafe of mango vodka, Red Bull and Skittles, the latter of which created a cool rainbow effect in the carafe that became increasingly cooler with each sip.
Food consists mainly of bar staples, some done very well. Meatball sliders ($8.95) were a good way to start. Served three to an order, these weren’t meek little finger sandwiches, as you might expect from an appetizer. They were of good size, filled generously with clumps of nicely seasoned ground meat and zesty marinara sauce, like Sloppy Joes with a bit more pizzazz. Mozzarella cheese had strategically melted around the fillings, keeping the meat and marinara from falling out of the soft, white buns.
We weren’t as impressed with the Budweiser queso ($6.95) app, served with tortilla chips. The queso was all texture, no taste — firm but with little flavor. We couldn’t detect even the slightest hint of beer. The corn tortilla chips were greasy and stale.
Wings ($6.95-$21.95), too, were disappointing. Of the six flavors, we went with a half-and-half mix of Thai curry and Korean BBQ. The wings themselves had plenty of meat, but coconut was the only thing we could taste on the Thai curry wings, and the Korean BBQ sauce had little complexity. It was just real sweet.
Vegetarian pizza was our favorite dish. A 12-inch medium pie ($11.95), its crust crispy and thick outside, soft and chewy inside, came topped with sliced zucchini, red onions and yellow squash, all of which managed to maintain flavor and crunch after a spin through the deck oven.
Instead of marinara sauce, a house-made roasted garlic hummus was used as the base, a pleasant surprise that made this a standout dish. Ridiculously addictive crispy chickpeas dotted the surface, along with economical dabs of basil pesto.
We had pizza for dessert, too, in the form of the Nutella pizza ($5.95), a simple, thin-crust pie covered in a thick layer of Nutella hazelnut spread and dusted with powdered sugar. It was aimless fun, much like the restaurant itself.
Managed by former Brownstone owner Sam Sameni, Landmark is cavernous, and every inch of it is filled with something to do or look at — vintage video-games, projector-screen TVs, a neon-lit American flag. On the weekends, the place turns claustrophobic, as it’s packed with boozy revelers, so much so that the line to get in starts near the street.
Best time to go is during the week, when it’s not nearly as crowded and servers have time to be helpful and attentive. Ours invited us onto the pet-friendly deck, where we finished off our meal with a big kiss from a patron’s friendly dog, guaranteeing that we’ll go back — and that’s not just the Skittlelicious talking.